Friday, August 28, 2009
The Cult of the Unknown Commodity Strikes Again
Allow me to throw my hat in a very crowded ring by announcing the Jays should sign Matt Murton. I'd say at least half the "serious" team-specific baseball blogs around have already made such a claim for their moribund franchises, and while this site is anything but serious, I am both contractually and spiritually obligated to regurgitate anything Dave Cameron says 4 months after he says it. Murton was DFA'd by the streaking Rockies in favor of a middling middle reliever, which says plenty about the Rockies outfield depth as well as the impact of high altitude on your brain. I caught some of the Rockies-Giants game the other night and found myself eying both Ryan Spillboroughs (too old) and Seth Smith (too left-handed and too good) until I realized Murton is perfect for the Jays for a million reasons.
The greedy bastards at DRays Bay believe the Rays should acquire him (you've got Matt Joyce, bugger off), and it makes so much sense I'm surprised the smart men behind Bluebird Banter haven't already made a similar pitch. He's young, cheap, and can hit; much like the existing core of Blue Jays outfield talent. Unlike Snider and Lind, Murton is right handed and capable in the outfield. That, my friends, makes him a valuable Blue Jay.
That I've convinced myself of Matt Murton's greatness to a degree that not only should the Jays take steps to acquire him, in my brain they already have says a lot of this team's recent past. The Tao mentioned bad roster management as a source of major frustration and he's exactly right. I made a similar point a couple weeks ago, using a few more words and a lot less clarity, but the point remains: any team on a budget needs to get the most out of all 25 spots. This one doesn't. Worse yet, underusing players who appear capable and overusing abundantly incapable ones robs us fans of the one thing we're all so eager to share: hope.
There is no hope in a Millar, a Wilkerson, a Mench, or even a Bautista. There is only pleading. "Please, please do that thing you did before. You don't even have to do it as well, just a reasonable facsimile will suffice." The young studs offer glimpses to the future while the filler around them constantly remind us of the grim present.
A younger guy like Murton isn't a retread, isn't coasting on his professionalism or reputation. He'd have something to prove as a fourth outfielder/occasional DH. Lind, Snider, Murton alternating between DH, left and right until something better came along, a scenario JP exploits perfectly with the arms but fails to replicate with the bats.
Of course it sounds good, you'll say. Aren't you just fetishizing another AAAA bat with a decent outfield glove? A league average player cut loose by a team in the thick of a pennant race? If he was The Answer, the Jays couldn't pick him up for a song.
Simply put; he doesn't have to be The Answer, he just needs to be what he already is and play. Fill in, hit lefties, catch the ball, make a name rather than get by on one. He could be everything Reed Johnson was before he became too expensive to be it. Throw up one good season, have one year in which everything comes together and you'll be getting second chances for 5-6 years. This is your chance to be washed up one day! This is the year you transition from never-was to has-been!
The apparent and/or imminent youth movement needs more youth, since the Jays are one of the oldest teams in baseball. Hardly an enviable position when your window is somewhere between closing fast and re-opening on the other side. Bringing in a younger guy with a future, no matter how bleak, will always be preferable to the leather ass of a big league grinder with nothing left to give.
Image courtesy of Flickr user Rich Brome